On Sunday March 20, the sun set in Antarctica, and it will not rise again until September. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates the South Pole Atmospheric Baseline Observatory throughout the year, and the researchers posted there will go without sunlight for the next six months.
The observatory, part of the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, is located in a part of the world that is so cold during the austral winter that aircraft can't fly, and scientists are stranded until late October. Temperatures can plummet to -100 degrees Fahrenheit at the site, situated 9,305 feet above sea level.
"It's the coldest, driest, flattest place you can imagine," NOAA Corps LT Jesse Milton said in a .
The observatory, part of the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, tracks atmospheric changes in carbon dioxide year-round, constantly monitoring the "cleanest air on Earth." The observatory is also one of the best places in the world to view the night sky (and it's always nighttime at the facility for half the year). The flat landscape allows unobscured views of southern constellations, planets, astronomical phenomena, orbiting satellites, and the Aurora Australis.
Think warm thoughts, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station researchers, and hope you brought some fantastic board games.